There is a highly sensible article in today’s Times by Patrick Mercer MP about the possible death of Rashid Rauf (whose family are denying his demise).
New Labour remains so bent on its simple minded pursuit of a foreign policy based on brute violence, that questions of legality are simply ignored. The Conservatives – in this case Mr Mercer – must again be congratulated for resisting simple populism and standing up for the fabric of legality that must underpin freedom.
To put it bluntly, if Rashid Rauf was indeed killed by US action in Pakistan. then he was murdered. He was killed on no legal authority. US attacks into Pakistan and Syria (which Obama supports) have no legal basis. Rauf was a UK citizen. We do not have the death penalty. Does New Labour accept as a matter of policy that the US can simply murder British citizens abroad at will? The government must be pressed hard on this question.
If Rauf has been killed, the question arises as to why. He was the primary source for information on the famous so-called liquid bomb plot to blow up airlines, which sparked the greatest over-reaction of government measures in the entire debacle of the War on Terror. Ultimately 80% of those arrested in connection with the “Liquid bomb plot” were released without charge, and the jury found that, while a small group did have terrorist intentions, there was no organised plan or airline bomb plot.
That is extraordinary, but even more extraordinary is that the prime informant, the alleged major al-Qaida terrorist, Rashid Rauf, “escaped” from the custody of the Pakistani intelligence services and MI6, apparently by simply walking out of his cell.
Let us add to this the further strangenesss that Rauf had originally left the UK after a warrant was issued for his arrest as a suspect in the murder of his uncle, a death with no apparent political or terrorist motive. Yet the UK authorities failed to request his extradition from Pakistan when he was in custody there, even though they were involved in his interrogation, and he was still wanted for murder in the UK.
So if Rauf was murdered (and his family are denying his death) was it because he was a terror suspect, or because the intelligence agencies were covering their tracks? Was the reason that the UK government did not want to extradite him to testify in the UK, the same reason he had to be silenced by his murder?